After 30 years of looking after the Alberni Valley Museum, executive director Jean McIntosh is retiring. She will hand over the reins to a new manager of museum, heritage and culture in mid-March.
“It really feels like time,” McIntosh said last week. “It’s right on a number of fronts. There were a number of projects I wanted to see through, things I felt committed to finish.”
McIntosh was hired in 1982 when the museum was preparing to re-open following a major expansion at Echo Centre.
She helped catalogue the collections and assemble the permanent displays.
“We were preparing the system that you see in the museum now,” she said.
Shortly after the museum opened she put together her first temporary exhibit, “A Life of Craft”, covering artist Peter Szachiv’s metal, wood and cement sculptures.
The final two projects she will see completed include the modernization of the front of the museum and inclusion of a gift shop, as well as the upcoming installation of interpretive signs in the old Alberni side of town.
“There’s been so much growth in those 30 years,” she said, adding that she is proud of the heritage products the Alberni Valley offers visitors.
McIntosh added she is proud of the way the visual identities of the Valley’s cultural icons—the museum, steam train and McLean Mill National Historic Site—have developed.
This past year was a particularly busy one for McIntosh, who oversaw the city’s centennial celebrations along with a committee of 11 volunteers. “I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but I didn’t want to leave partway through the centennial,” she said.
“In many ways it’s been a really nice way to finish up.”